Saturday, February 4, 2012

WRONG TURN 3: LEFT FOR DEAD




PHENOMENALITY: *uncanny*
MYTHICITY: *poor*
FRYEAN MYTHOS: *drama*
CAMPBELLIAN FUNCTIONS: *sociological*


The best-part of this second sequel to 2003's hick-horror flick WRONG TURN comes at the beginning.  Four teens, canoeing on whitewater in the hills, beach their canoes and make camp.  One guy and girl leave to collect firewood and/or give the other guy and girl privacy to have sex.  Just as the half-nude girl is about to commence sex with her boyfriend, she asks if the guy thinks she's a slut.  His response isn't the joke: the joke is that when she's first to be killed by the freakish hillbilly Three-Finger, the writer has invoked once again the popular "slut dies first in these movies" trope.

In the same scene, the boyfriend-- also killed a few moments later-- references DELIVERANCE with a remark about a "banjo-playing hillbilly."  Then the other guy is killed by the horrible hill-dweller, though the "good girl" Alex escapes.

As often happens when it's evident that there's no place for a sequel to go with the original elements, filmmakers will try cross-breeding with elements of other genres.  Thus Jason of the FRIDAY THE 13TH films encounters a CARRIE-like girl in one of his outings.  This time, the WRONG TURN series gets crossbred (rather fitting metaphor in this case) with a prison-break story.  In brief, the next victims Three-Finger waylays is a transport-van full of convicts.  The convicts manage to get hold of the guards' guns, kill one guard and force the other one, who knows the backwoods country, to lead them to safety.  On top of all that the convicts frequently quarrel amongst themselves.  When Alex stumbles across the group seeking refuge, she finds herself thinking Three-Finger wasn't so bad-- at least until the "mutant freak," as the film calls him, starts picking everyone off one by one, largely with the use of clever traps and arrows.

The change from teen-victims to hardened criminals doesn't do anything for the level of characrerization: the victims remain just as one-dimensional as in the other films.  I'm not a huge fan of the other two entries but they did show a little more imagination in terms of portraying the monstrous villain and his family; in this one Three-Finger seems to be alone except for a son who's quickly killed by the cons-- a leftover from the last entry, perhaps?  But the filmmakers do nothing special with the main appeal of the hick-horror film: the utter strangeness of the backwoods-culture.  The most I can say is that purely in kinetic terms, the film is better directed than two previous films by Declan O'Brien, the execrable SAVAGE PLANET (2007) and MONSTER ARK (2008).

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